Posted in The MIGHTY Rosie, TV Stuff

What did I just watch? Or – Vox Machina is worth a look

Whilst not all, much of the sci-fi/genre TV fare that goes on TV at the Munky House is either discovered alongside the Mighty Rosie, or I have brought to the her attention, so when it goes the other way, it’s always something a bit special.

One such thing was Critical Role. Its a live stream of a game of Dungeons & Dragons, the world famous roleplaying game. The group are friends who work in acting and voice acting and their filmed games are quite fun. I watched one with a Christmas theme, that was over four hours long, but was such a laugh.

Now one of their more well regarded filmed campaigns was based on a group of characters known as Vox Machina and Amazon Prime recently adapted it to a 12 part animated adventure set in its fantasy world and the creators of Vox Machina were brought in to voice them and as soon as the MIGHTY Rosie heard of this, she insisted we watch it.

And so we did.

Here be spoilers

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The Legend of Vox Machina was released on 28 January 2022 starring the following:-

Vex’ahlia: Laura Bailey

Vax’ildan: Liam O’Brien

Percy De Rolo: Talieisin Jaffe

Pike: Ashley Johnson

Keyleth: Marisha Ray

Grog: Travis Willigham

Scanlan: Sam Riegel

Vox Machina are a group of adventurers containing many of the kinds of characters you find in a party of D&D players, a rogue, a fighter, a cleric, a mage and a bard. But these are relatively amoral ‘heroes’ who are in it for the sex, drugs and rock and roll of it all. When we first see them, they are involved in a bar fight. We very soon see that we are not in the presence of a regular set of protagonists. They are often in conflict with one another and have vastly different agendas. The series starts with a between-adventures bar fight before they are asked to save the nearby land of …….. from an unknown monster, which ends up being revealed to be a dragon. They then become the official heroes of the land they saved before being embroiled in the revenge filled agenda of Percy as he tries to free his land from the monsters that have taken his ancestral home.

In these stories we have love stories, redemption arcs and hero moments. We also have a lot of pretty graphic moments of violence and horror. Now all of that is good and if all that this show had to offer was drama and violence, it would still be worth seeing. The thing is, the biggest selling point of this show is it’s humour.

From the dry humour of Vex, Vax and Percy who are all quick asides and quips to the comedy gem that is Grog, the party’s tank, who moves from kind hearted goof to barbarian war machine in seconds, sometimes doing both at the same time. But as well as that, we get the party’s Bard, Scanlan. A blending of Marvel’s Pip the Troll, Farscape’s Rigel XVI and HIMYM’s Barney Stinson. Most of the show’s more risque moments and jokes. Everyone knows one of those people who are a bit too NSFW and when you take that to the Nth degree you get Scanlan and his magic purple hand spell.

The thing that struck me most about this show was that unlike a lot of fantasy series, there was a sort of layperson reaction to it all. The cast acting like the fucked up stuff was in fact fucked up. People reacted to the weirdness, like dragons, vampires and Vex having a familiar called Trinket who is a bear. This is a not safe for work show, plenty of sexual references, violence and horror wrapped up in a fantasy setting that makes this one of the most unique and interesting TV shows I have seen in the last two or three years. I knew it was something special when I was genuinely angry that the season had come to an end. Honestly I’m thinking of watching it again just writing about it. It’s on Amazon Prime at my end, which if you don’t have it, should have some kind of 30 day free trial option and this is very much worth giving a try.

Posted in TV Stuff

5 Adult Animations

When I was a young’un, animation was clearly seen as a medium for children. They were relegated to after school timeslots and Saturday mornings. With the ascendance of the Simpsons as well as Family Guy and South Park, animation was given a new avenue to entertain a new audience that wanted an animated show that wasn’t just for kids and many times not even suitable for the little ones.

Final Space

Part satire on space opera, part action show and part comedy this is the tale of Gary, a prisoner on a space ship, who gets drawn into large galaxy spanning events and encounters a variety of characters and ends up on a quest to save Quinn, a woman Gary longs for, who doesn’t feel the same. It’s silly and whacky fun and whilst I am unsure who the target audience is, it certainly works for me.

Archer

A bit of an old standby, this is a series out the life of an international spy, his colleagues, his ex and his mother all working for a spy agency in a modern day setting, but using very cold War themes and characters. Archer himself is a boorish, womanising, heavy drinking narcissist who is also somehow a great spy. But really it’s a workplace based sitcom with witty writing and bizarre characters. I won’t lie, halfway through its run the wheels start coming off, but it’s pretty fun to watch.

Lower Decks

I am a big fan of Trek, in almost all its forms. If it has one flaw, is that it takes itself too seriously. Lower Decks does not suffer from this flaw. This version is once again a workplace sitcom which pokes loving fun at the franchise, showing us the view from the junior officers of a mid-level ship in the fleet. A

Bojack Horseman

Morphing from a comedy-satire of Hollywood, to a character study of a man struggling with his many many flaws to an examination of what having such a toxic person in your life can do to you, this was a fascinating, if uncomfortable journey. Will Arnett kills it as a former star struggling to stay relevant and loved several years past the heights of his career, surrounded by equally flawed people it was an interesting story that had a beginning, middle and end and satisfying end. It would be nice to see what happened next, but it ended so well that, I’m okay if we don’t.

The Legend of Vox Machina

I am not going to say too much about this, because honestly it has made such an impression, it’s going to be it’s own post. This is one of those shows that can do pathos, action, horror and humour with equal ease, without the whiplash of tonal shifts that you would expect. The show is an adaptation of Dungeons and Dragons Roleplay campaign and is absolutely full of amazing characters and incredible voice actors.

Well that’s another 5 done. See you soon internet people.

Posted in Miscellaneous, TV Stuff

Finding the Positives in 2021 part 3

It would not be unfair to say that this was a challenging year. I felt that it was harder to find the positive, but honestly, it was the kind of year that made sure that you had to and so here we are back to look at my pop-culture positives. 

With the restrictions, illnesses, calls for social distancing and changing advice from what we laughingly call leaders, let’s just say we’ve watched a lot of TV together.

 There’s been older stuff, have for the second time watched Blakes 7 after one of the lesser-known channels got the rights for it. We have also started re-watching Archer and have moved beyond where we stopped before. Also old favourites such as Castle and Bones are back in rotation as well as new seasons of A Discovery of Witches and Titans, but there were also a few new stand-outs.

Buffy: The Vampire Slayer

Now I know what you are thinking, surely this isn’t new. It isn’t I have seen it several times before now, but this year, I began to share it with SuperSam. All three of us here at the munky house have been enjoying this slice of 90’s fantasy. Whilst there are scary moments, the action, writing and humour have made this pretty much  a family favourite. Just this last week, we made it to season 3 and SuperSam shows no sign of wanting to stop watching. 

Sex Education

Now like the rest of these, this was just one for me and the MIGHTY Rosie. Well to be honest, it was one for the MIGHTY Rosie as I wasn’t too interested. After watching some of the first season, I was less than convinced. But then something happened, whether it was the young actors now comfortable in their roles, or a writing staff that had hit their stride, or that enough plot had occurred, that the characters were compelling, but I really started enjoying it. It’s a show populated by strange characters, idiosyncratic events and yet underneath it, heart. You genuinely care for the characters, even the ones that you probably wouldn’t in any show. These are flawed and at times unpleasant characters, but you feel for them and that is just good writing.

Dusk till Dawn

This was one of the earliest Netflix originals. I wasn’t much in the market for a slower retelling of a film I had already enjoyed and walked right past it. I made a mistake. The roles are re-cast with younger actors, the story re-written with a prestige format mentality in mind and subtle tweaks and twists added to make the story fit it’s longer and more in-depth nature. It’s good. It has the gore of the film, but takes it’s time to get to know the characters and explain them a bit. You care for Seth and Ritchie and see how their dysfunctional selves got to having to take hostages in the first place. You sympathise with the main vampire, seeing her as someone who was a victim and became a monster because of it. Everything you liked about the film is there, but there’s so much more and at the end of the film, you’re done, but here it’s only the end of season 1. This was buried when released, but is worth giving a try to.

Midnight Mass

Well I had  no idea what this was going to be when it started, by the end of the second episode, I was in the same boat. But there’s a twist, an almost obvious one with hindsight and the story moved forward, slowly, but forward nontheless. But then came the end of episode 4 and bang, things got turned up a notch and the last two episodes were a rollercoaster of action, horror and drama. What I am saying is, this didn’t start well, interesting, or even worth my time. But this show when it got going was brilliant and almost the new TV highlight of the year. It’s not what you expect, but it is something worth seeing and I am glad I got to see something interesting and a new twist on an older tale.

Lucifer: The Netflix years

Taken from an idea from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, the story here is that the devil quits hell and moves to LA to open a piano bar with one of his demons. The show gives us the next part of the story, where a detective meets him and they investigate crimes together. This show only worked with Tom Ellis being funny, horny and charming in equal measure as the incredibly honest devil, who was never the bad guy the stories portray him as. Netflix picked up the production after it’s cancelling by FX and I finally finished the last three seasons. Season 4 dealt with the detective knowing that the man she’s known for three years, telling her he’s the devil, is actually the devil. By the end of season 4, she accepts him, but he has to go back and rule hell to prevent some of his former servants wreaking more havoc on the human plane. With season 5 he returns and has to contend with one of his angelic brothers causing enough problems to get the attention of their father, God. Season 5 puts the family drama in the midst of celestial and angelic matters and mixed them well, including God thinking he might need a replacement. There’s a whole big thing, we lose one of the main cast and there was another season left. Well, okay lets be honest, season 6 could have been one episode, or in the words of the MIGHT Rosie “This could’ve been an e-mail”

Yes it was a bit of a tacked on ending, but it worked, giving something of a decent ending to a series that was already cancelled once. The redemption of a TV show that was about the redemption of Lucifer. Yes it was silly, to some blasphemous, but honestly I loved that this show got to go out on a high.

 

Well that’s TV done with

Next Time: Comics

Posted in Miscellaneous, TV Stuff

Finding the positives in 2021 part 2

It would not be unfair to say that this was a challenging year. I felt that it was harder to find the positive, but honestly it was the kind of year that made sure that you had to and so here we are back to look at my pop-culture positives.

With the restrictions goalpost moving, it was hard to do a lot outside, so a lot of time with SuperSam was spent with games (board and video varieties) and TV, a lot of if was new to the both of us and there was a few highlights.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

This was one of the highlights of television. Watching 3-4 episodes a week, we were able to finish this quite quickly and often gave the two of us plenty to talk about. A fantasy story set in a fantasy version of Asia, it’s the story of a mythic figure questing to learn all he can to save the world. This series covered themes of loss, trauma, bigotry and took an interesting look at relationships in a war-torn world. For a kids show, it was surprisingly adult and many characters changed over time.

(SuperSam thoughts: This show was fun and had a lot of jokes that came back, like the “My Cabbages!!” guy.)

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy

This was three 6 part stories (Siege, Earthrise and Kingdom) that were really one 18 part story about the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. This again was more adult in scope and dealt with the harshness of war and the uselessness of hatred and one can easily become the villain, despite wanting to do the right thing. It was action packed, but deep in it’s themes and plumbed the depth of Transformers lore, throughout it’s 3+ year history. If you have any nostalgia for the property, it is very worthwhile checking out.

(SuperSam thoughts: I liked this, but it wasn’t as good at the end.)

Spider-Man 94 series

This was something I was able to show him that I enjoyed in the halcyon days of my own youth. It is very 90’s in both tone, production design and which characters feature, but it did manage to tell a long form Spider-Man story that rewarded you for paying attention. It had good characterisation felt very much like the Spider-Man that I remembered. GCI animation segments aside, it stands up really well and is long overdue for a re-appraisal.

(SuperSam thoughts: Really fun, with good stories.)

Spectacular Spider-Man

This was a cute lil reboot from before Disney brought all it’s Marvel properties together. Set during the early days of Spider-Man, it was a fresh take on the Steve Ditko era with touches of high-school melodrama and crime noir. It played with familiar themes of Peter Parker’s guilt, responsibility and his life taking the punches for being Spider-Man. It took some liberties with the early stories, but honestly it made it all work and allowed us to care about Flash Thompson without having to wait 20 years for any sort of redemption.

(SuperSam Thoughts: – Made me laugh quite a lot, Doctor Octopus stood out as a cool Spider-Man villain.)

Masters of the Universe Revelation

I talked about this here and feel no need to do so again, but this series ended on quite a high note and was ideal for old fans and new viewers, which is the ideal combination for any kind of revival of this kind.

(SuperSam thoughts: Legen-wait for it-Dary, Legendary. I want more of this!)

And that was that, lots of fun TV aimed at the younger end of the market, but still enjoyed by someone old enough to know better.

 

Next Time: Other TV from this year.

Posted in TV Stuff

5 More Repilots

Doctor Who

Rose – First Aired 26 March 2005

Starring Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Noel Clark & Camille Coduri

This could also fall into the category of Reboots, in fact when I looked at 5 positive reboots, I did include it in 5 Good Reboots. The fact it doubles as a re-pilot is a technicality as a result. It does the repilot often as the cast and show-runner changes quite frequently as part of it’s premise. But one thing this show did for it’s triumphant return in 2005 is change it’s format. Now in the before time, this was a multi-part series format. 2, 4 or 6 part stories broken down into 25 minute chunks, but with Rose we got 1 and dones or 2 parters at most with a 45 minute run time. More than changing the cast or creative teams (which this show already did so many times before) it changes how stories were told and in some respects what stories could be told. Maybe it was for the best? Maybe modern audiences, more used to faster paced stories and shorter arcs, wouldn’t have accepted it the old way. I don’t know, but it was changed quite dramatically in that way and it’s being more of a continuation as time went on left the show being more of a re-piloted show, than a rebooted one.

Stargate SG-1

Season 9 Episode 1 – ‘Avalon’ First aired 15 July 2005

Starring Ben Browder, Christopher Judge, Amanda Tapping, Beau Bridges, Michael Shanks, Claudia Black and sometimes Richard Dean Anderson.

Stargate SG-1 was a spin off from the pretty decent feature film Stargate. The film which originally had Kurt Rusell and James Spader had it’s characters Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson recast with Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks. The series added Christopher Judge and Amanda Tapping as original characters Teal’c and Samantha Carter and ran for 8 years battling the aliens posing as the pagan gods of Earth and other alien threats. After 8 seasons, Richard Dean Anderson moved further from the acting and by season 9 wasn’t going to be there for most of the season. So a newer character Cameron Mitchell was brought in played by Farscape’s Ben Browder. Also from Farscape was Claudia Black, reprising her role of Vala Mal Doran a human once possessed, but now freed. Without the original aliens to battle and their allies free to do as they wished, a new alien threat called the Ori appeared and started the whole sort of thing again. We got new villains, new government people to deal with, a new medical person and new leader of the SGC base and we got another couple of seasons that felt fresh-ish. It didn’t really have the same magic as it once did and the newer show Stargate Atlantis was doing all the new stuff, so maybe they should have stopped at 8, but there were fun episodes to be found and after a 10th season and two TV movies, the show wrapped up rather nicely.

Smallville

Season 8 Episode 1 ‘Odyssey’ First aired 18 September 2008

Starring Tom Welling, Alison Mack, Erica Durance, Aaron Ashmore, Cassidy Freeman and Justin Hartley

Smallville was a victim of it’s own success in many way. Originally produced as the untold story of the early years of the teen who would one day be Superman, the show was set in Smallville, Kansas and had a very specific amount of time to tell that story. Taking many of it’s cues from John Byrne’s Man of Steel, it seemed to be building to the day when Clark left and travelled the world. But the problem was, that it did well in ratings and acquired a loyal following. The family drama, the super heroics, the foreshadowing and the shaping of the relationships between Clark Kent, Lana Lang and Lex Luthor made the show highly entertaining and no one wanted it to go. 4 seasons became 6, became 7 and some people wanted out. Lex had gone from Clark’s friend, to his rival to an enemy and without it becoming the Superman/Lex story there wasn’t much to do there and both of the Kents were either killed off, or explained away and it was less and less about Smallville and Clark’s life there. Come season 8 and things changed. Clark was now working at the Daily Planet as a cub reporter. Lex and Lana were now gone and new characters and ideas came along to go with this newish direction. But it worked enough to give us 3 more seasons and the series ended with the iconic shirt rip, so alls well that ends well.

Unforgettable

Season 2 Episode 1 ‘Big Time’ first aired 28 July 2013

Starring Poppy Montgomery, Dyland Walsh, Dallas Roberts, James Hiroyuki Liao, Tawny Cypress and Jane Curtain.

Unforgettable was a police procedural in the ‘one of the detectives is unusual’ vein. This time Carrie Wells is an ex-cop brought back into the field to help the Syracuse Police Department. She is so useful because she has Hyperthemesia, she literally can’t forget anything. She looks at something and can always remember it. It’s an interesting idea, rather than having a highly developed brain like Sherlock Holmes, or psychic powers, her thing is simply that she misses nothing and can recall details that few if anyone else can. The show often shows the conceit of her re-running memory, showing her walking through her own flashback. Thing of it is, Hyperthemesia is a real thing, it’s a rare thing and people are still studying it, but it is a real  thing. The first season set in Syracuse is based on a case of the week basis, but also the mystery of Carrie’s sister’s murder, the one memory that she can’t access. The season ended and that was it. The second season opened with Carrie and her ex-boyfriend and current partner Al Burns being headhunted by the New York Mayor’s office to help run a major crimes division. They got a new supporting cast, more exciting cases and a new locale to play with. It didn’t change much in regards to what the show was about, but did make a clear demarkation from the first season.

Archer: Vice

Season 5 Episode 1 ‘White Elephant’ first aired 13 January 2014

Starring H.Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler and the late Jessica Walters

Archer was a adult aimed cartoon about a US spy working for a side agency called I.S.I.S. who was a less than stellar person. While a capable fighter and operative, he lacked any kind of professionalism, discretion and restraint. He was drunk quite a lot of the time and led around by his privates most of the rest of the time. He also fit right in with his colleagues, his ex-girlfriend who still cared about him, the bizarre HR rep, the (I think literally) insane secretary and his overbearing hard-drinking mother. This was a work-place comedy with a spy-fi feel and a 1980’s aesthetic. But the organisation he worked for was unfortunately named for the time, so at the start of season 5, the spy agency (which we learn was operating illegally) is shut down and the gang start trying to make ends meet in other ways, with large scale drug dealing, country music record sales and arms dealing being what they gang tried to get into, with varying degrees of debacle. These people shouldn’t be protecting a country, I wouldn’t trust them to protect an ice cream van for ten minutes, but this was funny stuff. I have started re-watching this recently and will continue to do so. Oddly enough this re-pilot change would occur again, but that’s not where that started.

So that’s it, another 5 re-pilots. What do you think? Did I miss any? Did I get any wrong? Comments, replies and inappropriate jokes are always welcome.

Ttfn for now internet people.

Posted in TV Stuff

5 Repilots

The idea of a Repilot is not something I ever thought of until i watched the opening episode of season 5 of Community. Community was a very meta TV show. which looked at the tropes and trappings of TV and popular culture and was a very smartly written show. It’s a bit of a niche show, but I enjoyed it.

Now as per that episode (itself called Repilot) the concept is that a TV show can often change premise, several cast members and format later in it’s run. The example community used was Scrubs, whose final season pivoted from being about the early medical career of Doctor John Dorian and his immediate circle and became more about the newer doctors starting their careers. I  was fascinated by that concept, but not enough to start watching Scrubs again. There are better medical shows, better sitcoms and better shows with most of that cast, but I never forgot the idea of a repilot.

Fast forward to several weeks ago and in work, the idea popped into my head that there were several other shows that did change in that manner. Sitcoms did it often, Grace Under Fire, Two and a Half Men, Whitney, Ellen and others, spring to mind. Then there are shows that their entire premise is like that, American Horror Story, True Detective, Miracle Workers and mostly likely others that haven’t occurred to me. But I am not including them, nor do I mean reboots and re-imaginings, these are shows that carried on, but were different in very clear ways, not just cosmetic ones, or one or two cast changes.

So in chronological order here we go….

Blake’s 7

Series C – episode 1 Aftermath. First aired 7 January 1908

Starring Paul Darrow, Jan Chappel, Michael Keating, Steven Pacey, Josette Simon and Jacqueline Pearce.

Originally the story of Roj Blake and his war against the facist Terran Federation in Earth’s far future. The first two seasons told the story of his uphill battle to overthrow this evil empire and it’s cost on him and his crew. But two of the main cast (including Gareth Thomas, who played Blake) wanted to leave and so it was left to some of the remaining cast and a couple of new people to take the show in a different direction and was now more of a rag tag group of rogues causing trouble across space. The entertaining Paul Darrow was move from the background to show lead and he shined in that role for the next two seasons. Yes it was the shame show, but it now had a different feel. Was it as good? Maybe not. Was it as well received? I don’t know, but it continued to be commissioned, despite the male and female lead walking off the show.

Galactica 1980

Galactica discovers Earth part 1, first aired 27 January 1980

Starring Kent McCord, Barry VanDyke, Robyn Douglas, Lorne Green and Robbie Rist.

Battlestar Galactica was a Glen A Larson attempt to cash in on the success of Star Wars with a action packed space opera show done on a TV budget. It had a great concept and premise often used as a recapped voice-over. “Fleeing Cylon tyranny, the last battlestar, Galactica leads a ragtag fugitive fleet, on a lonley quest… a shining planet known as Earth.”

The series only really got the one series and as a result, never found Earth. It did get picked up as a lower budget revival, set in the here and now (well the hear and now of the early 1980s) and as a result, it’d be cheaper to make. More cost cutting was the casting of relative unknowns as the generation after the original cast. Kent

McCord played Boxy, the son of the previous series’ lead Apollo (played by Richard Hatch) now known as Troy he and his wingman Dylan were the pilots who were chosen, by new character Dr Zee, to secretly go down to the now located Earth, which was further behind technologically than the fleet and had no chance if the Cylons found the fleet and by extension Earth. It wasn’t as good, but there were interesting ideas and sometimes ambition matters when execution falters.

Angel

Season 5 Episode 1: Conviction – first aired 1 October 2003

Starring David Boreanaz, J.August Richards, Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof & James Marsters

Angel was a spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, setting the vampire with a soul as a PI in Los Angeles, fighting demons and saving souls. After averting an apocalypse or two, the series ended with long time antagonists Wolfram & Hart (evil lawyers inc) ceding LA to Angel, offering him their LA office and leaving them to run it. The idea being that if they just starting demolishing the firm, then evil would do business elsewhere, if they didn’t they’d be part of the problem trying to do good, drowning in the evil they had previously been fighting. It became the metaphor of work in your 20’s. Can you still be the person you wanted to be, whilst being in the belly of the beast? Cue legal dramas, comical office politics and the addition of Buffy fan favouring James Marsters as Spike. Spike, now also a vampire with a soul adding conflict and comedy to the cast and the show changed as a result and could now tell new stories that took the idea of a demon fighting vampire and turned him into the head of an evil law firm. It was different, but it was still the same show. Would power corrupt? Sometimes. Would evil flourish? Sometimes. Was it worthwhile? Well that was the question. This new premise only lasted the one season, but it was a great swan song for this show that never eclipsed it’s predecessor, but was always worth watching.

Justice League Unlimited

Episode 1: Initiation – first aired 31 July 2004

Starring George Newburn, Phil Lamar, Carl Lumbly, Nichelle Tom, George Eads and Kevin Conroy (who is Batman)

The Timm-verse is the most ambitious and well realised animated saga outside of anime ever done. Starting with Batman the Animated Series, then Superman the Animated Series with diversions to Batman Beyond and Static Shock, it culminated in Justice League, which combined many of the characters and the voice actors who played them and brought them into a well realised and ambitious series that very rarely ever disappointed. It showed several parts of the DCU, including the Demon, Atlantis, Earth-3, the Green Lantern Corps and a return to the Fourth World. It ended with a 3-part alien invasion story and then they changed everything. No longer about 7 superheroes, it now included any hero that the expanded League needed. Heroes like Superman, shared a line-up with Hawk and Dove, Ralph Disney the world-famous Elongated Man, Supergirl, Captain Atom and the Question. We got to see more of the universe, including more Fourth World stuff, the future of Batman Beyond, Skartatis and even the future of the Legion of Super Heroes. We even got ongoing subplots, complex and relatable villains and a couple of great season finales. Also, we got a format change, no longer dependent on 2-parters, we got connected tales, or some great one-off episodes, which used humour, drama and action to tell enjoyable stories that showed the best parts of the  DC universe.

Alias

Series 4 Episode 1 – Authorised Personnel Only, first aired 5 January 2005

Starring Jennifer Garner, Ron Rifkin, Michael Vartan, Carl Lumley, Kevin Weisman and Victor Gerber

Alias was a fun little spy-fi action show, combing action scenes, sci-fi tropes and soap-opera levels of “everything you know is wrong” melodrama. It started off with it’s lead Sydney being  a double agent between the CIA and the criminal spy agency SD-6. Halfway through the second season, the SD-6 plot-line was finished and the series moved her towards being a regular spy in the CIA. Then we got a 2/3 year time jump, which extended that story a bit further. Now both of those things could be considered repots as a stretch, but that was mostly done organically, with no real start and end points connected to it. But for the fourth season it was a more clear change to premise. Instead of battling SD-6, Sydney and co were the core of APO which was a CIA backed version of SD-6. People were in different roles, some people knew the truth, some didn’t and it was similar enough to the original premise, but still feeling like a brand new show. This newish series lasted a further two seasons, before the Alias saga was wrapped up in a relatively satisfying ending. 

There you go, 5 shows that seemed to become new shows within their own runs and in most cases decent TV.

I came up with another 5, but that is for another day.

Ttfn internet people.

Posted in TV Stuff

Not my Fandom, again

The Weekend, the month-end and payday, internet people and am so glad to be out of there for the week.

A couple of things of note is that last weekend, I went swimming. The MightyRosie, SuperSam and I went to a pool. I haven’t been in a pool in over 2 years and it felt damn good to get into one then. Just under a hour of widths, lengths and relaxing and I found myself really smiling, really enjoying. The next day, all three of us went to brunch. It was like it was before lock-down. I wore a mask going in, but was able to use a buffet and it all felt really normal. I loved the weekend because of that. As a result, this week in work has felt harder than it needed to feel. But now we have adapted to the change in staff, things are running a little smoother and I feel better about the future here.

This week did see the launch of Masters of the Universe: Revelation, a Netflixed reboot/continuance of the 1980’s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. When I was a kid, all those years ago, Masters of the Universe was something I loved. It had action, cool designs, great toys and I have a great fondness for it. So I shared this reboot with my son. Because it took us all week to watch all 5 episodes (full-time job for me and sleepovers for him) I have avoided a lot of spoilers, but have seen that there’s been backlash and negative feedback and I expected to not like it.

Spoilers

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But I did like it and so did my son. It had a great voice cast from old school talent like Alan Oppenheimer, famous voices like Lena Headey and Dennis Haysbert and both in the voice of Skeletor, Mark Hamill. It was well written dealing in themes of loss, betrayal and the aftermath of tragedy. The animation is slick and the action sequences are all kinds of fun. Sitting next to me, cheers came more than once. I wondered what the problem was and as always it came down to the usual refrain of “This isn’t my ……” I keep seeing this and I do understand this, but here’s the cool part, that does not matter! So my response to that is….”No, it isn’t. So what?”

Nostalgia is comforting, watching films and TV, listening to music, playing games that came from your childhood/youth is very comforting in an ever-changing and seemingly worsening world. I have been guilty of this and seeing so many reboots, relaunches and reimagining attempts of things I used to watch being made and announced, I often feel that these things aren’t for me. They are not. But that’s okay. I have aged. A Masters of the Universe cartoon, shouldn’t be for me, it should be for my son, or kids younger. The world has seen so many changes in the last 40 years, so making TV for the sensibilities of 40 years ago seems at best problematic at worst, stupid. Now in particular to this show, there is the fact that only half of the season has been shown, just half. There is no reason at all that what you wanted to see is on its way.  But the other half of this is that this isn’t for you, it can include you, but it’s not for you and that again is okay.

I watched and enjoyed the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe show back in the 80s and loved it. But in the cold light of day, it was not a perfect show. It reused animation so many times, the characterisation was at best slight and the moralising got on my nerves at the time. I have watched it again recently and whilst I wanted it to hold up, it didn’t hold up to a re-watch, nor a more modern audience. There’s nothing wrong with the core concept, or most of the characters, so a reboot isn’t a bad idea and this delivered on some of the deficiencies of the older show.  I hated the comic relief character of Orko, Teela was a cardboard cut out character and the villains lacked a hook beyond the tour de force that was Skeletor. Five episodes of this show and Teela was a new and vital character and when they got rid of Orko, I was genuinely upset, as was my son. This was a better show. Does this mean that you should like this better than the old one? Not really, but despite this show being a bit of a nostalgia-fest, it is being used to pull in new viewers. I am not the target audience, or at least not the whole target. Is it more inclusive than the old show? Yes, is that a bad thing? Again your mileage may vary. But again, this isn’t your Masters of the Universe. That is still there, they even did a reboot nearly 20 years ago. If this isn’t for you, that’s okay go and watch the other stuff, but you are not affected and someone else has their He-Man series, which has just happened to focus on Teela and not just He-Man. This show is also not perfect and perhaps in 20 years or so, someone will make a new one and the fans of this will be complaining.

You are right, this is not your He-Man, but this one existing, does not, and let me repeat this part of the show, does not do anything to you. Stuff is remade all of the time and you are just going to have to either accept that or make your own stuff.  I like this show and encourage anyone who wants to, to give it a try. It may not be your He-Man, but it will be someone’s and I am glad that for a week I got to visit Eternia again and this time, bring my son. When part 2 shows up, we will go back and whatever happens, I am glad to be able to do so.

These things do mean something to us. I am not complaining that you care about a 40year-old kids cartoon. But honestly recognise that it doesn’t just belong to you. You do not own it, you own your love of it and that’s good, but you don’t own it. Someone else can change it, someone else can love it and if you don’t like the changes, then go watch something else or watch the original if you can and let whoever likes this like it.

Went on a bit of a rant there, but read a couple of articles and watched a youtube video and it all got a bit too much.

Posted in TV Stuff

A place where no shadows fall

I was saddened this morning to learn of the passing of the actress Mira Furlan at the age of 65.

Babylon 5 was a show that I was pretty much at the ground floor when it started and watched it avidly during it’s first run and many many times since.

It is my favourite sci-fi TV series and will always hold a special place in my heart. One of it’s draws was the characters and this was revealed through the performances and Mira was one of the best at that. She was spiritual, without being cold, good natured, but not sanctimonious and spoke with a voice full of horrors past and hopes ahead. Much of that was on the page, but it was the actress who breathed life into it. She was the heart of that show and a big reason for how well it has held up against the passage of time.

It’s a show who’ve lost much of it’s cast in recent years and this is another sad moment in a year or two of sad moments.

So in memory of her impact on sci-fi, I put below Delenn being a complete badass in Babylon 5’s 3rd season.

 

Take care of each other.

Posted in TV Stuff

5 Christmas Episodes

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. Well after living under restrictions, all weekends indoors and stress eating, goose isn’t alone. But at this time of year, I like that there is so much available in regards to TV 📺 and film 📼

With the season upon us, I wanted to look at TV episodes that aren’t Christmas specials, but have Christmas at the heart of them.

Justice League: Comfort & Joy

Season 2: Episode 23 – Airdate 13th December 2003

This is the only stand-alone episodes of the excellent Justice League series and is made up of a series of vignettes starring pairs of Justice League characters. Green Lantern and Hawkgirl show each other their Christmas traditions, Superman takes Martian Manhunter home to enjoy a traditional Kansas holiday season and the Flash battles and then teams up with the Ultra Humanite to make Christmas for some orphans. Is it a little sentimental? A bit simplistic? Emotionally manipulative? All three are a yes, but most good Christmas fare is. It is charming and plays to each character’s strengths and makes it either a great Christmas episode, or part of a whole series rewatch equally well.

Smallville: Lexmas

Season 5: Episode 9 – Airdate 8th December 2005

After arranging a shady deal, Lex Luthor is shot and lies near death. Clark Kent and his friend Chloe help deliver presents as during his coma Lex hallucinates a life he could live if he abandoned his pursuit of power. It’s a bit ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and of course the lessons he could learn are completely ignored since we know any redemption he could experience must pass him by as he is destined to be a villain, but it’s an interesting character study of a villain before he becomes that villain and it all takes place around Christmas which reinforces the parallels with the earlier mentioned Christmas film.

Community: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas

Season 2: Episode 11 – Airdate 9th December 2010

This is the most recent one, yet also the most whacky and deep one. Distraught over his mother choosing her new family over her Christmas tradition with him, Abed goes off the rails and perceives the whole world as claymation. Acting as though he is in his own Christmas special Abed’s behaviour grows more and more bizarre and outlandish and his friends/study group band together along with Greendale’s psychology teacher try to endure a guided meditation/therapy session to help Abed find some kind of peace. The claymation makes this a bizarre episode playing to the show’s off-kilter sensibilities while removing anything remotely resembling reality. In the end it has something to say about the meaning of Christmas, but never leaves you in doubt of the silliness of the whole experience.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Amends

Season 3: Episode 10 – Airdate 15th December 1998

As Christmas approaches, Angel is having nightmares and hallucinations over his victims, both over his first 150 years as a vampire and his recent reversion to Angelus and it’s driving him mad. He seeks help from his at the time ex-girlfriend Buffy as well as her mentor Giles (whom he had horrifically tortured 9 months earlier) and it brings up all kinds of feelings about Angel’s past, his culpability in these actions after his soul had been restored and how much of it was caused by a malevolent being knows as the First Evil who wants to lose his soul again and since that’d be caused by sex with his girlfriend, Angel wants this too and as he seeks to kill himself to save everyone from his own weakness, a Christmas miracle prevents it. It’s another great look at how redemption is an ongoing process and that being a good person isn’t easy, especially when what people remember is the evil you have done as well.

Bones: The Man in the Fallout Shelter

Season 1: Episode 9 – Airdate 13th December 2005

The guy who played Angel (David Boreanaz) returns to the screen as Seely Booth in this cracking little police procedural which put science alongside silliness to make a show unique at the time. In this episode the medico-legal lab at the Jeffersonian Institute is quarantined after a toxin is found in the bones of a body found in a fallout shelter. The worst thing is this happens at Christmas and the whole team including series leads FBI Agent Booth, and Forensic Anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan are trapped at work and kept from their families and friends. The solve the case and find the lover of the victim, who has gone 50 years not knowing what happened to him. We also learn of Zach’s large family, Angela’s dad being in ZZ Top and Booth’s son Parker and we get to see more of the team as people rather than their jobs and it’s a touching character piece that had me invested enough to watch another 9 seasons. I think maybe starting a re-watch of Bones may be in my future.

Well that was my five, certainly among my favourites as they highlight how Christmas means different things to different people, but means something to a great many of us.

I don’t know if I am going to post before the new year, but certainly not before Christmas Day itself, so take care of yourselves internet people, take care of one another. The thing that Christmas means to me, isn’t presents, isn’t big meals and silly jumpers. What this time means to me is that in the darkest and coldest time of the year, we display the warmth in our hearts and share that with anyone we see. We wish one another well, we do secret santas, we give bigger tips and try just a bit harder to be nicer to one another. Isn’t that a nice thing, to be the light in the darkness that we all need to see. In this darkest of years, we need all the light we can get.

Thankyou internet people, for everything, because if you are reading this, you have helped me and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year that is better than we have had this one. If Christmas isn’t your thing, then greetings for whatever festivities you do observe. Take care

Ta ta for now.

Posted in TV Stuff

Stuff I have enjoyed: Picard

I go to work, it’s fairly negative right now. I put on the TV, it’s fairly negative right now. I go out, oh wait no I don’t.

The point is, there’s a lot of reasons to not be cheerful, so I want to do some about positive stuff.

I was a kid in the 80’s. That was a bit of a magical time, new technology appearing all the time, some of the best kids TV in years, some of the best toys that went with it and a lot of my childhood was happy. One positive was that there was a guy who drove round the streets where I lived renting video tapes. I watched a lot of films during that era, but one thing I also did was watch my first few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Now, with the clarity of hindsight, I can see the flaws of that show, it’s re-tread scripts and wonky special effects of the early seasons, but to a 12 year old boy, this was magical. So despite the ground-breaking nature of the original series, or that Deep Space Nine is hands down a better show, TNG has a special place in my heart. When it ended, I was sad, but then we got the 4 films of lets say varying quality, but by the end of Star Trek: Nemesis I was glad to say goodbye. But I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t curious about what happened to the crew of the USS Enterprise E and it’s Captain, Jean-Luc Picard.

Clearly, I was not alone.

Amazon released the series earlier this year with a 11 episode run set in the timeline of the Next Generation, but two decades after Nemesis and years after the fall of Romulus depicted in the J.J. Abrams helmed Stark Trek XI. I was apprehensive, there’s been a lot of revival/reunion shows recently. This is often a sign of a lack of new ideas and a slavish devotion to our beloved shows of the past. I was less than keen on the overall idea.

I watched it of course, because I am undeniably a Trekkie.

The show first aired 24 January 2020 and the cast was:-

Patrick Stewart – Jean-Luc Picard

Allison Pill – Dr. Agnes Jurati

Isa Briones – Dahj/Soji

Michelle Hurd – Raffi Muskier

Santiago Cabera – Capt. Cristobal Rios

Harry Treadaway – Narek

Evan Evagora – Elnor

Jeri Ryan – 7 of 9

….and more besides.

This show is the story of Jean-Luc living in isolation on his family’s vineyard. He’s retreated there after storming out of Starfleet years earlier. He’s embittered and angry but is drawn back into things when a woman is on the run and somehow knows he can help. After many years, there’s a mission. He gets a crew, hires a ship and heads out into space. It doesn’t matter that he has a brain anomaly that will most likely kill him soon, someone needs to be saved.

The story was tightly plotted, the dialogue was fairly witty and the tone matched the time it was show, which was pretty bleak, but it’s the performances that make this work and Patrick Stewart is still as strong a presence as he ever was when he first put on the uniform. It played with themes of regret, of seeing something you believed in fail and how anger costs you. One thing it didn’t do is play to the myth of the old hero, who is as strong as he was 30 years ago. This Picard is an old man, struggling to keep up with the younger cast and battling health issues. Then we have the whole anti-artificial intelligence plot and the mystery of Data’s legacy and there’s a really exciting and interesting story going on here. The effects were good, fantastic actions scenes and even a few easter-eggs for the long time fans. I watched it weekly, downloading each episode as it dropped.

If you have ever enjoyed Star Trek it’s worth checking out, but if you haven’t it’s still a very well made TV show with an excellent cast and was a reminder that this franchise can have more than one type of show and work. If they left it at this one, I’d be perfectly content, but am also glad that they haven’t and look forward to whatever they do next and that isn’t a small thing in a TV landscape that I am less and less invested in. It was also sort of adorable that his dog was called ‘Number One.’

Take care of yourself everyone.